We both were working and well settled in our respective lives when we got married. We had no intent, (except for vacations) to go and settle abroad but life had different plans. My husband’s job took him on international travels often but I never accompanied him because I was busy at work. 3 years later, he had to move overseas for a long term assignment and that’s when I took the difficult decision - to accompany him. Things seemed more like a holiday initially – luxurious hotel stays, new home, new friends, new country but gradually all excitement died down and reality resurfaced. From an independent, working woman I turned to an immigrant job seeker.
This is the story of all women who follow their spouse abroad as trailing spouses. The transition isn’t easy for all, either visa restrictions or restricted job market limit career options for trailing souses. It is tough but for those who are willing to explore and experiment, being a trailing spouse is not the end of career. What are your options?
Bridging programs – Some countries have well established bridge training programs that help qualified internationally trained individuals move quickly into the workforce. They assess your existing skills and competencies and provide training and workplace experience, recognizing your educational and work credentials. Some bridge training programs also offer mentoring opportunities with established professionals to help you become certified or registered in your field.
Professional networking events - If you are qualified, willing to work and have a valid work visa but still unable to find job, attend professional networking events and meet professionals who could help you. Sometimes, employers/HR are looking for great talent and utilise these professional network events to connect with them. Even if you do not come across a potential employer, you might still meet lot of people who could be potential references for your next job. Meeting professionals from similar industry offers insights into job market and career opportunities in your host country.
Explore the hidden entrepreneur in you – If baking, cooking, teaching, technology or anything more is your speciality, take this opportunity to be your own boss and start your own business. Many start-ups and enterprises today are run by women who took their passion to profession and entrepreneurship.
Co-op placement programs – Check for the co-op placement program in your country of residence. These programs allow newcomers to develop real work experience. They offer few weeks of educational class to develop an understanding of work culture and etiquette and relevant interview skills. After completion of the course, a co-op placement is provided which could turn into a full-time job.
Advance studies and scholarships - If you land in a country where occupations are regularized, it could be an opportunity for you to pursue further studies. Many countries offer bursaries or scholarships to professional immigrants helping them to make a career in their field of interest and experience. These aids will assist you to start and progress in your career. Also, these advance certifications will add to your professional education globally.
Freelance your services – Content writing, virtual assistance, technical expertise, virtual teaching, these are some of the many work opportunities that freelancing website provide. All you need to understand is how to sell your skills and approach the right client. Till you get a full-time role, explore these freelancing options to gain some financial independence and work experience too.
I have been to the non-working, low side of being a trailing spouse and journey back to my career and my professional identity was overwhelming. Sometimes options seem limited but if you are determined to pursue your interest and career, you can easily beat identity crises. All you need is to understand and research the options in your host country.
By Meetu Khanduja